Philadelphia thrived. Founded in 1682, it became a haven of religious tolerance. As a Quaker and a victim of discrimination, William Penn believed strongly in allowing others to worship freely.
The city's growth rested on economics as well. By the 1770s, it ranked as the most important commercial city in North America and one of the British Empire's largest. Its importance and central location made it the logical place for aggrieved colonists to gather.
In 1774, the First Continental Congress met in Carpenters Hall, a few blocks from here. In nearby Independence Hall, the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. In 1787, the Constitutional Convention met there to write the Constitution of the United States. And from 1790 to 1800, the new federal government used the city as its national capital.
Thus from 1774 to 1800, Philadelphia functioned, with brief interludes, as the political capital of the emerging nation.